After a hectic first day here in Cologne at Gamescom 2013, here’s a quick roundup of what and who we’ve seen so far.
VR Goes All HD
Entering the Koelnmesse (the world’s fifth largest conference venue) as a complete novice to Gaming shows is daunting in the extreme. The scale of the structure is awe inspiring. One destination comprising 11 Halls, all filled today with gaming goodness from all around the world. Gamescom is Europe’s biggest gaming convention and it feels like it.
Luckily, finding my way around was easy thanks to a distinctly German level of efficiency in terms of signage. As a result, I managed to make my first appointment, a hands-on demo with CCP‘s EVE Valkyrie (formerly EVE-VR). CCP recently announced that they were rechristening the once tech-demo and that the game would receive a full release in 2014.
My anticipation was already high amidst rumours that this was a freshly polished version being shown for the first time at Gamescom, it skyrocketed when I reached the booth and saw 6 shiny new HD prototypes (delivered to CCP just the previous day) sitting in the demo stations behind glazed doors. EVE Valkyrie has gone HD and let me tell you it’s a sight to behold. This was the first time I’d had a chance to experience the new 1080p version of Oculus’ new toy and wearing it for the first time whilst immersed in the EVE universe was a real treat. The new polish shone in 1080p with subtlety in lighting and textures laid before me. I wanted both immediately.
I’ll be posting my detailed impressions along with an interview with EVE Valkyrie’s Senior Producer Jon Lander later this week.
On to Oculus VR Inc’s discrete booth (i.e. just one solitary sign) to meet with Founder and Rift creator, Palmer Luckey and VP of Product, Nate Mitchell, along with another demo of the HD Prototype — this time with the now standard (albeit still incredible) Unreal Engine demo plus an HD presentation in the Virtual Cinema demo.
Both Nate and Palmer were gracious and patient with my amateur fumblings to get equipment setup and were both still beaming and enthusiastic despite it now being 12 months since the Oculus Rift Kickstarter launched VR back into the public consciousness. We chatted about the last 12 months of Oculus VR Inc’s journey, the recent signing of John Carmack as CTO and Oculus ‘Share’.
Again, they were enthusiastic and gracious throughout and I’ll be posting details of the full interview soon. One thing I did ask them however was whether the HD Prototype would evolve into a ‘DK2’ and was told plainly that it wasn’t on the cards or even economically viable. We’ll have to wait for the consumer version to experience the gloriousness of HD VR in our homes I’m afraid folks.
To continue the HD VR theme (and to justify the headline), on the main show floor, Oculus had a raft of HD prototypes with a growing line of people waiting to try them. Furthermore, joining the usual games lineup was iRacing, the hugely successful online Racing Simulation which recently received Oculus Support in a beta release. With any luck I’ll be gauging the public’s reaction to the new Dev Kits tomorrow.
After meeting up with Road To VR’s (and /r/oculus’) Dominic Eskofier, he told me he’d spied a surprise visitor in one of the public show floors. Much to my surprise, on checking it out I found Cyberith proudly showing a brand new prototype of their VR locomotion device the Virtualiser, quite literally straight from the workshop. I got a chance to see and film it in action as Dominic gave it s spin (see sneak preview shots below). We’ll also have an interview with Cyberith’s founder Tuncay Cakmak up online soon.
There’re a few other snippets to share while I’ll get up online as soon as I have enough bandwidth. If anyone would like to talk to meet with me or if you have any tips on other VR Related attractions at Gamescom this year, please mail me at paul at roadtovr dot com or reply in the comments below.